Reminiscing in Puerto Vallarta

Just like with boats, RVs don’t fare well when left sitting. We spent two full months in Mazatlan and the day we left I started the engine and discovered that the rear main seal was leaking again. That’s the one that leaves a puddle of oil on the ground after starting the engine up for the first time during the day.

Leaving Sayulita after three weeks of immobility we pulled out onto the highway to discover that the blinkers were no longer working. I should have known that getting the oven working was not going to put me any further ahead on the to-do list.

So, yeah, we left Sayulita and headed south. Not far, just to Puerto Vallarta, to show the kids around their birthplace/old stomping grounds. We’ve got a few odds and ends to clean up, and then we’ll be off again.

After a couple of days here in PV, however, we’re contemplating which way to go. It’s only mid-April, and we figured we’d have at least a few more weeks of bearable temperatures along the coast, but the heat here has been pretty exhausting already. Exhausting because by about three o’clock the heat and humidity has sucked any energy we had right out of us. So, we’re up in the air at the moment—maybe we continue south, maybe we crank the wheel inland.


Sayulita campground friends.


Ouest’s doll, Molly, has to be one of the greatest pieces of Chinese made junk ever made. I mean, I wouldn’t have given this doll a year to live when she first arrived. Now here she is strapped into her bike seat three years later. Lowe has one too—Minnie. They both sleep with them curled up right next to their faces.


Everybody has a job to do. Mine is to hold the windshield washer boy.


Beginning of a day bumming around Puerto Vallarta.

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It’s been years since we made her this bracelet. She wore it for a long time, then it got put away in her jewelry box. It was fun to see her bring it out again today.


The malécon has a statue on each block, all of which seemed designed to allow kids to climb all over them.

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I’ve probably eaten a hundred tacos from this carnitas stand (corner of Lázaro Cárdenas and Aguacate). I love them. If we were in the second grade and I told you how much I loved these tacos you would say, “Why don’t you marry them, then?” And I totally would.

I asked the owner how many years he’s been at it—twenty-seven. I wish I would have thought to ask him how many kilos of meat he goes through in a day, because this stand is always busy.

When you walk up he asks, “Taquitos?”


Then if you want to sound like you know what you’re doing you tell him how many you want on each plate, not how many tacos total.

“Tres, dos, dos, dos.”

Grab your plastic bag sheathed plates of deliciousness, pile on your salsa and jalapeños, and eat. Go back up for more, because you will want to stuff your body full, then when you’re all done, and only then, do you pay the girl.

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We walked up the hill to take a look at the condo we used to rent in the summers, or when Lowe was born. This picture is of the hill going one block further up than we had to in order to get to our place. That one probably would have broken us. It was a hard enough climb already.

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While we were standing on top of this defunct lighthouse thousands of bees suddenly came down the hill and flew right through us on their way to a mango tree across the street. Funny how cool you play things when the kids are around. If it had been just Ali and me we would have been flying down those steps three at a time, not just sitting there really still.

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I oftentimes wonder how scenes like this are wiring my kids’ brains for who or what they’ll become in the future.



Toothless Grin

It’s been a weird tiring week with Lowe sick, then better, then sick, then tired, then hungry, then not hungry, then better. Today he is finally better. We think. We’ll see tomorrow.

We popped into Sayulita on a whim because some friends were in town. We thought we’d stay a couple of days and continue on. Somehow, even with all the changes and how much the place has grown, we still find ourselves pretty content here. So a couple of days stretches to three weeks.

Lowe and I both looked great here after a stellar night of sleep.

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The fairies gotta eat.

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After just over one year on the road in this bus we finally have fire in the oven. I’d tried a few times to get the oven working, to no avail. I had sort of figured the problem was in the thermostat, but couldn’t find a replacement anywhere, and my tearing apart of the old one didn’t work either. Then one day in February while back in Minnesota for the wedding we spotted an ad in a Travco Facebook group for an oven remarkably like ours. Cost, $250. We got in touch and it turned out the lady had been following Bumfuzzle already. Obviously, she had hoped to sell the entire oven, but when I told her we just needed a couple of parts off of it she agreed to sell us just those, and effectively scrap the rest of the thing. Then she gave us a price—$50. So nice.

Today I finally got off the beach, got the parts out of the box, and got to work. Within the hour we had a working oven. The kids got excited because they both know that means more banana bread and cupcakes.

So, what did we have for dinner our first night as proud working oven owners? Spaghetti.

It wasn’t until today that we realized we don’t have any pans, or cookie sheets, or any other cooking thingamajigs one uses inside an oven.

For the record, it was the thermostat. I replaced the gear inside the oven as well, but the real problem was with that thermostat which I had suspected all along.

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Playing bus driver.


Today Ouest had her first professional surf lesson. She’s been doing amazing with me, but we figured that someone who really knew surfing could teach her some of the finer points. And we were right. Within just a couple of waves her form had improved so much. She went from sort of climbing up off of the board, to springing up, and doing so in a way that left her feet right where they should be, smack dab in the middle of the board.

When I signed her up I just assumed the price was for one hour—instead she caught wave after wave for two hours. The funny thing was that the instructor wasn’t like me—I tend to push her into the wave and then skip through the water, grab her, and pull her back out on the board. Not today. For the most part she was in charge of paddling her butt back out to him, and if she doesn’t sleep fourteen hours tonight I’ll be surprised. If you’ve never surfed you have no idea how exhausting a workout that paddling is. There is a reason you don’t see fat surfers.

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This morning Ouest and Lowe were playing outside when they both started screaming. Somehow they had run into each other, one of Ouest’s front fangs smashing into Lowe’s shoulder. Her tooth had a little blood around it and was a little loose as well. Pretty much par for the course with Ouest. She has spent at least half of her life with teeth that were in the midst of falling out due to some collision.

Fast forward to this afternoon. Some Bum friends who are in town stopped by to say hi. While we were all sitting around talking Ouest started goofing around and climbing into this small space behind a wooden Adirondack chair. Then somehow, while dropping down to hide, she hit her mouth right on the top back of the chair. Tooth? Gone. This tooth that wasn’t even loose this morning was now laying in the dirt somewhere while Ouest cried and blood gushed out of her mouth. This girl is absolutely going to cost us a fortune in orthodontist bills.

She’s got another legitimately loose tooth on the bottom right now as well. A smile only a parent could love.



Semana Santa

Semana Santa—Holy Week—is the big Spring Break-type beach party weekend for Mexico. There was a slow buildup throughout the week, but Thursday is when the flood came, and the partying kicked into full gear.

I say it is like their Spring Break, but it’s really not like a bunch of American college kids showing up on a Mexican beach to party. About half the crowd are extended families, and the other half are groups of friends there to get sunburned, dance, and drink. A fun, carefree crowd, and not a wet t-shirt contest to be seen. We enjoyed the people watching anyway.

The beach, obviously, was packed. So much so that on Saturday we even decided not to bring the surfboard along. It was too dangerous. About a block into the walk Ouest looked over at me and yelled out, “You forgot the surfboard, Papa!” Sorry, kid. “Awwww.”

On Sunday morning the mass exodus was underway. Thousands of people walking the streets, roller bags in hand, headed for the bus station. We passed them on our way to the Urgent Care clinic. Lowe is sick, and spent the rest of the day in bed.

Some friends in the campground were sitting around this morning when their seven-year-old girl asked why the Easter Bunny didn’t come to see her. They hadn’t really thought she would notice, or care, but she did. So the dad snuck off in the afternoon, bought some candy, and sprinkled it around the campground. Our kids don’t know anything about the Easter Bunny, but when Ouest caught wind of what was going on—a candy hunt—she was off with the rest of them.

She returned with four pieces of gum. She held them up to me, and I told her what they were. She was disappointed. As far as she’s concerned gum is for adults. She’s never had a piece, and being the parents we are we just never brought it up. So anyway, I opened up a wrapper and told her she could give it a try. She took a small bite, held it in her mouth for a few seconds, and spit it out.

“No good?” I asked.

“No, I like it, Papa.”

She just doesn’t know what the purpose of gum is—she only knows that I told her not to swallow it. So now she takes a nibble off a piece of gum, chews it a couple of times, and spits it out in the dirt.

I could have corrected her I suppose, but I kind of like this way better.

This is the campground right next door to us. I took this picture from on top of our bus.


The crowd waking up Saturday morning.

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Coming alive around noon.

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Okay, so the big uproar by the gringo community over this holiday seems to revolve around two things. One of which was alluded to in the comments of my last post. “I can’t wait until the weekend is over so that we can have our beach back.” Ugh.

The second is, “Look at the mess they leave behind. They don’t care about the environment!” They, of course, being Mexicans.

The gringos speak as if the locals are heathens. My reply is to ask what they would do if there was no waste management program in their hometown? Take a look at what happened in Naples, Italy, just a few years ago. Their landfills filled up, their government didn’t solve the problem in time, and the Italians just started dumping their garbage in the streets. Hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage. In Italy.

So what happens in a city like Sayulita that doesn’t even have a city government? Obviously someone needs to step up and address the problem—and pay for it as well. As far as I can tell, that job fell to the business owners, who by eight o’clock in the morning had the biggest section of party-beach looking like this.


To expect a bunch of people in the midst of a party to pick up their garbage, bag it, and deliver it to their car (because there are no municipal garbage containers), is ridiculous. All the gringos acting high and mighty need to get off their pedestal.

Headline, July 7th, 2014: 2,300 Pounds of Trash Litter Tahoe Beaches After Fireworks Show

Headline, July 7th, 2014: Volunteers Clean Up 3,400 Pounds of Litter from Jacksonville Beach

These are American cities that certainly had a budget for this, and who I am sure had plenty of trash receptacles available.


[Note: Ali has been reading me comments on this subject from a Facebook group that she follows, and has gotten me a little riled up.]

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Ouest constructed a house for Fairies. And she fully expects that they will need to eat. And I, of course, because I am a gullible father, will take the food off in the night. And Ali, because she is a sweet mother, will give me a sucker to leave behind for the wonderful girl who fed them. And Ouest, upon discovering this in the morning will squeal with her hands over her mouth in delight.

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All right, so this is a stupid game, but the kids wanted to see me do it. Throw a rock, break a bottle, win a beer. Two in a row, win two beers. All three, win a six-pack. The game is stupid because the only way to come out ahead is to throw three rocks and break three bottles. At least I started out good.


The Easter Buildup

It’s was kind of funny watching all of the gringos pack up and leave in just the last couple of days. RVs loaded up en masse and hit the road, determined to get completely out of Mexico before the Easter holiday hit.

I say it was kind of funny, but what I really mean is that it was kind of sad. A lot of the talk I’ve heard has an underlying tone of…I don’t know, entitlement? Elitism? Racism? There seems to be a general feeling of, “How dare they. They come in by the thousands and party all night long, and leave the beach, my beach, a mess.”

It almost sounds as if the North Americans begrudge the Mexicans their holiday. As if the Mexicans haven’t taken the American’s and the Canadian’s feelings into consideration at all. Like, “They didn’t even ask if they could come and take my peace and quiet away for a few days. How rude.”

Here is how a lot of the gringo talk comes across to me, “Mexicans are meant to serve me, not to mingle and party with me. Let them have their fun, but let them do it in their own homes.”

Anyway, those that fled aren’t missed.

Apparently these poofy things are the latest rage. Hang them up and everyone will know you are just one wild and crazy guy.

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Oh, Michelada, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.


Sounds weird at first, but when it is hot out, and you are sick of plain old beer, there is nothing better.


Thursday, the beach is starting to get dense.

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Getting better every day. She’s catching most of her waves now.


Lowe spends an hour straight just jumping into ever single wave that comes through—hundreds of them, and then he is wiped out and ready for an ice cream.

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Practicing for the show.


Trying to keep their skin smooth—younger looking.

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New Canada

There are a ton of Canadians in Mexico. Like ten to one versus Americans, it seems. And Quebec—what is the deal with Quebec? Does that whole province just get to leave for six months of the year? The population there must drop by half in the winter. The Americans down here like to call Sayulita “New Canada.”

With Semana Santa—the big Easter holiday—coming up in a few days, the gringos have fled for home. Whole cloth. It’s said that the beach turns into a swarming mass of ten thousand Mexican families who come down from their homes inland. We are actually anxious to see the spectacle—especially since we have such a nice spot to lay our heads down at night.

Ouest and I were out surfing today when a lady who was taking a lesson paddled into a wave right next to us. I held Ouest back and let her go by, but as she did I could see a look of anguish on her face. The wave flipped her over head first and when she came up it was obvious she was hurt. She turned to her instructor and pointed at her shoulder. It was quite clear—even through her rash shirt—that it was separated. Oh man, that’s nasty.

The instructor and I reached her at the same time—he looked at me and asked, “Do you know how to put it back in?”

“Ummm, no. But I’ll carry her board in for you.”

We walked her up to the beach and she sat down with her friends while the instructor ran off to find the lifeguard.

I imagine her day did not get much better from that point.

We have continued our beach bum ways. It can quickly begin to feel like a way of life—like a rhythm that there is no reason to disrupt. Wake, play, eat, beach, surf, eat, sleep.

Ouest is loving her daily sessions, and catching a ton of waves. And Lowe is enjoying being pushed in on some ripples too, though he isn’t inclined to stand up just yet.

No pavement. No problem.


The OXXO (convenience store) getting ready for a wild week. Holy week. Religious holidays make me chuckle.

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Watching a baseball game. The kids are constantly asking me to tell them stories. Oftentimes I can’t think of one, so I go to my fallback story about Babe Ruth. It’s 90% fiction, concerns a boy named Timmy who is in the hospital, and a promise by Babe to hit a couple of home runs for him to make him feel better. I elaborate a little more every time I tell the story (it’s become a very long story), and the kids absolutely eat it up. Now, every time we see a baseball player they ask if it is Babe Ruth. When I tell them no, they say, “Awww, when can we go see Babe?”


Good form. I love that moment when I lose sight of her on the other side of the wave, and then boom, she pops up.

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Normally I’d say this is not our scene at all, but for Holy Week (actually this is just the lead up to it) I can totally live with it. The crowd is fun. There are tons of families, three generations deep, as well as a younger party crowd. But even the partying is pretty low key. Some music, some beer, some food, and some laughs. It’s a fun vibe, and we’re happy to be here and be a part of it.

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Local style. Micheladas and shrimp brochetas.


The girl has a lot of skills.

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